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SJUSD superintendent to retire; internal search underway for replacement

By Sara Beth Williams–
The San Juan Unified School District Board of Education on Tuesday announced their search for a new superintendent of schools, with input being sought from community members.

Kent Kern

In an Aug. 23 press release, the district said its process for an internal search for the next superintendent of schools would begin immediately. The district plans to seek feedback from students, families, community members and staff regarding their hopes for the future of San Juan Unified School District.

Current Superintendent Kent Kern informed the board in early August of his plans to retire at the end of the 2022-23 school year, prompting the board to begin their selection process. He has committed to moving into a supportive role.

Kern began his career as a teacher in the district in 1993, then moved into an administrative role beginning in 1998. He has held positions as vice principal, principal, director of schools and programs, manager of safe schools and interim senior director of facilities and planning, before being named as the assistant superintendent of operations and school support in 2011.

During his tenure, Kern is credited with advancing the use of technology in daily classroom instruction and helping school staff use data to inform decision making. As director of schools and programs, Kern led professional development for principals and helped develop district-wide policies and practices.

He was unanimously voted in as the district’s tenth superintendent of schools by the Board of Education on March 25, 2014. Later that same year, Kern made a recommendation to close the former Sylvan Middle School campus, which generated controversy among parents and community members.

Board President Michael McKibbin said in Tuesday’s press release that the district is seeking a leader who understands where the district is at currently and can help the district grow from there.

“As a board, we feel it is essential that our next superintendent be able to build upon our strengths to help us address our areas of opportunity,” the president said.

Members of the district’s community are invited to share their input online via a “Thoughtexchange” forum, from Aug. 24 through Sept. 9. Thoughtexchange offers participants an opportunity to both share their thoughts and read input from others.

Interested community members are also invited to provide input at one of several forums being held on Sept. 8. The forums will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at four locations throughout the district. An online session will also be available simultaneously.

The district said it also plans to conduct additional outreach to students, families and communities. All of the input collected from efforts will be shared with board members prior to interviews being conducted.

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